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HERMITAGE City offers funds to nonprofit agencies



Published: Mon, September 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Area organizations that provide housing for those with low- and moderate-incomes will be eligible.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The city has agreed to offer financial help to nonprofit agencies that need money to rehabilitate their residential facilities.

City commissioners, acting in response to a request for assistance by the Mercer County Association for the Retarded, have amended the city's housing rehabilitation regulations to provide a special exception for nonprofit organizations.

Robert Beach, MCAR executive director, told commissioners recently that he needs about $20,000 from the city to help make improvements to four of his agency's group homes in the city.

MCAR will put up $11,000 for the project, estimated at a total cost of about $30,000, but noted that funding sources for this type of work are drying up.

"We want to be good neighbors," Beach said, noting it is to his agency's advantage to keep its properties in good shape.

Similar request: Beach said he is making a similar request from Sharon for four homes MCAR has there.

Hermitage regulations limited municipal financial help on housing rehabilitation to owner-occupied houses.

The exception gives agencies such as MCAR that provide housing for low- and moderate-income people access to some of those funds.

The Hermitage program, which normally spends between $250,000 and $300,000 annually, is funded with a federal Community Development Block Grant.

Inspections: City Manager Gary Hinkson said the city won't just hand the money over to agencies that apply.

Their properties will have to undergo the same inspections that all other rehabilitation projects must have to ensure the property meets city building and safety codes. They must also use city-approved contractors to do the work, he said.

It makes sense to open the program to nonprofit organizations, said Commissioner Pat White.

"We are proud of our community, and this helps keep homes up," he said.

Hinkson said the housing rehabilitation program for owner-occupied dwellings won't be hurt by this change.

The city was able to free up CDBG funds previously allocated to its economic development programs that it can channel into housing rehabilitation to cover this cost, he said.




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